BEIRUT

Lebanon News

Theater director claims 'victory,' passport returned

Lucien Bourjeily (The Daily Star/Mahmoud Kheir)

BEIRUT: Lebanese theater director Lucien Bourjeily said Friday that General Security had returned his passport, announcing on his Facebook page that it was a "victory" over what he called an arbitrary confiscation and a curb on his freedom of movement.

Bourjeily said General Security confiscated his passport Wednesday after he dropped it off for a renewal, almost preventing him from going to London to stage his immersive play "Vanishing State" at next month's LIFT Festival.

The director was shortlisted for a Freedom of Expression Award from the Index on Censorship in February this year, after censors in 2013 banned “Will It Pass or Not?” a stage comedy set in General Security’s Bureau of Censorship.

Bourjeily had a visa appointment with the British Embassy last Friday, he said, but was told that, due a lack of space on the remaining pages, he would have to renew his passport before being issued a visa.

Speaking to The Daily Star earlier this week, Bourjeily said he asked the officials at General Security if he had committed a crime. “They told me: ‘No, there is no crime, or else we would have kept you here ... but there is something you did in 2013 and you should know what it is.’”

On his Facebook page, the director said there was still hope for him to make it to London and that the British Embassy and LIFT would help him with the travel procedures.

Thanking his friends, family, colleague and everyone who had backed him, Bourjeily said: "We finally won one battle ... but the fight is not over."

He said the return of his passport was not enough and that he along with other activists would continue fighting against such violations.

He also thanked Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk for meeting with him and "demanding the immediate release" of the passport.

The director said Machnouk vowed such an incident would never happen again.

 

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